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Great Plains, Westar shareholders back merger

and shareholders onSept. 26 approved thecompanies' $8.6 billion cash-and-stock combination.

Themerger particularly won a great deal of support from Westar shareholders, whowill receive $51 in cash and $9 in Great Plains Energy common stock. Accordingto the Topeka (Kan.) Capital-Journal, 96% of eligible Westarshareholders voted to approve the deal.

Theboards of both companies had previously recommended that shareholders vote forthe applicable proposals related to the merger. The deal also earned theendorsements by the Kansas City Area Development Council, regional economicdevelopment organizations and elected officials, according to a Sept. 26 newsrelease.

"Thisis a great transaction for all Great Plains Energy and Westar stakeholders.Together, we will create  a strongercombined company that will be better positioned to serve customers, generatehundreds of millions of dollars in operational savings for years to come, meetthe region's energy needs and achieve improved and more stable, long-termfinancial returns," Great Plains Energy Chairman and CEO Terry Basshamsaid.

Atclosing, the combined company will have more than 1.5 million customers inKansas and Missouri, almost 10,000 miles of transmission lines and more than51,000 miles of distribution lines, and nearly 13,000 MW of generating capacity.

Thedeal is expected to close by spring 2017. But aside from shareholder approval,the deal still needs clearance from FERC, the Federal CommunicationsCommission, the Federal Trade Commission, the Kansas Corporation Commission,the U.S. NRC and the U.S. Department of Justice, according to S&P GlobalMarket Intelligence.